Church of St Peter & St Paul, Eythorne
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Eythorne is a civil parish and small village of about 1,000 homes, 7.3 miles NNW of Dover in Kent. There are currently about 2,500 residents including Barfrestone and Elvington. Although not classed as one of the former pit villages of Kent, it was only about a mile from Tilmanstone – which closed in 1986. Today many of its residents commute to work in Dover (Docks), or in Canterbury.
There are regular buses to Dover and Canterbury which is about 13 miles away. The nearest railway station is 3 miles away in the nearby village of Shepherdswell, where trains operate between Dover and London to both St Pancras and Victoria stations via Canterbury.
Eythorne Baptist Church is more than 450 years old and one of the first Baptist churches in the UK. Esther Copley, wife of William Copley, who was minister in Eythorne from about 1839 to 1843, was a prolific and successful writer of children's books and books on domestic economy. She died in the village in 1851.
Eythorne once had three pubs; The Crown is still trading, but the White Horse and the Palm Tree are long closed, both now being residential properties.
Eythorne is in historically set in two halves: Lower Eythorne, where the Church of England and Roman Catholic churches are situated, and Upper Eythorne, where the village shop and the Crown public house are located, and where most of today's villagers live. Many reside in the small housing developments that sprang up in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Shopping in Eythorne
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Eythorne has only one shop, a post office newsagent with a few general goods. In 1960, Chapel Hill had a double-fronted Co-op store, a haberdashery, bicycle shop, greengrocery, and another food shop. At its junction with Sandwich Road was a separate newsagent, opposite the post office. A little further, along a garage, owned for many years by the Hampshire family (who also owned the Post Office together with the one in Elvington, the mining village a mile to the north). It sold petrol until around 1980. The current hairdresser is relatively recent, having been opened only about 30 years. Before this, the village chemist was in the same place (last pharmacist Mrs Crossland). Further along Sandwich Road was the bakery (last baker, Mr Clayton). The old bakehouse still exists. Immediately next door was the old Eythorne School, for all ages to 14, which closed during the war due to the Butler Education Act. This then became a factory until demolition in the 1970s for housing. Next to this was an old green building, which for most of the time after World War 2 housed Hampshire's Coaches, but its deep dug-out floor would have shown its earlier use as the Eythorne Cinema. This also fell to housing in the 1970s. A little further still, on the opposite side, was Eythorne Haulage Yard, previously a coal yard; this went to housing shortly after.
A Mrs Simmonds ran a tiny sweet and food store in the ancient building opposite side of Church Hill to the White Horse, and a Spar shop and butchers were situated near to the Crown pub. All these operated through the early 1960s, closing one by one into the 1970s. Even unmade New Road had a shop purpose built in its short terrace of early Edwardian housing, closed for many years it reopened in the late 1960s, trading into the 1970s before closing again (Mrs Bryson).
A hairdresser existed at the village centre roundabout, together with the café, a destination for motorcyclists in the 1950s and early 1960s (Mr G Townshend). A Mr Mears ran a builders' yard between the cafe and the Crown, and opposite the Crown was a forge. Down at the junction of Green Lane and Monkton Court Lane was a food canning factory which was just along the footpath, to the East of the quaint cottages. The village doctor (Bellamy) worked from his home in Coldred Road.
Farm industry existed in Eythorne Court Farm, and a further farm along the footpath from Chapel Hill which runs west parallel to railway. For much of the 1960s these were run by the Ledger family. Bill Davis ran a smallholding in New Road in the 1950s, taken over by his son-in-law and grandson, Eddie and Ted Watson, who produced free-range eggs on a considerable scale. There was also an old farmyard in Green Lane, which was derelict in the 1950s and went to housing in the 1960s.
Eythorne also had a rhubarb-canning factory which was in operation until after the war. There was also a blacksmith's opposite the Crown Inn; the buildings fell into disuse and were redeveloped in the 1980s. Along the Colred Road was the site of the original Baptist church until the late 19th century, when it was moved to Chapel Hill due to a neighbour complaining about being woken up on Sunday with loud hymn singing. That neighbour bought the land for the chapel, which is still being used till this day. The nearby woods along the Coldred Road is named locally as Thommies Hole and was used as a training ground during the war. Some of the trenches dug can still be made out. There was also a narrow-gauge railway line, and that is now used as a footpath (although largely overgrown); you can still see some of the sleepers in place.
Media related to Eythorne at Wikimedia Commons